To the editor:
I was shocked when reading about the recent vote taken in the Indiana Education Committee to expand the school voucher program, that there was no mention of the Common Core. While the public was largely unaware that Common Core was on the horizon two years ago, when Indiana's original voucher law passed, they have since woken up and connected the dots. Now it is time for legislators to do the same, to realize that the two issues are, unfortunately, inextricably linked.
As a parent whose children attend a parochial, voucher-accepting school, I have learned about the Voucher-Common Core link the hard way — in the form of changes to my child's curriculum. Changes, which although unpopular with parents, were made in anticipation of the federally funded Common Core test, which is replacing the ISTEP in 2014. Although neither the test, nor the standards it purports to measure, have ever been field tested, schools throughout Indiana are changing their curriculums to prepare.
Suddenly, I am realizing that the "choices" I previously thought I had regarding my children's education are quickly vanishing. Yes, I can still choose between differences in the buildings, and whether the school offers religion, which is a "choice" I certainly don't take lightly.
However, when it comes to making "choices" based on academic or curricular differences, I find there are fewer and fewer. Instead, almost overnight, all public and voucher-accepting private and parochial schools are being herded into the same "one-size fits all" Common Core system.
While many parents of students at religious schools worried there might be strings attached to vouchers, they were assured by advocates when the law originally passed that there would be next to none. I am one such parent, who naively believed what I was told. Now, however, there seems to have been a bait and switch. Suddenly, the stranglehold of the Common Core feels more like a noose around the neck of my child's school, and vouchers appear to be the vehicle of strangulation, rather than of an expansion of parental choice.
According to a 2011 article written by the Heritage Foundation's Lindsey Burke, "Rob Enlow, president of the Foundation for Educational Choice, argues that the common core initiative will limit options for children." He aptly made the point, "If the last 50 years of American K-12 education have taught us anything, it is that one size doesn't fit all." He said, "This is true for the types of schools that children can attend and the curricula used to educate children. We need options, diversity, and innovation in education, not a prescribed top-down curriculum for schools."
Indeed, Mr. Enlow is right. Parents want real choices, not phony one-size-fits-all ones. Legislators who are smart will right this wrong, by supporting SB193, to begin a process of review on the decision to adopt the Common Core. Better yet, Governor Pence needs to lead the future members of his State Board of Education to reverse Indiana's adoption of the Common Core. Only then will a semblance of true parental choice exist in Indiana. Until then, it remains a sham.
Suzanne Lear Sherby